Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2023

As things have gotten busier and I’ve struggled with a lot of different things, it’s true that there is a burdensome aspect to being the guy who’s always doing the Record(s) o’ the Month. This year, I tried to approach this differently. I intended to use Zadion’s stupid fucking comment as the kind of bulletin board material that keeps motivating a guy to keep playing even when he’s on the verge of retirement due to his bum knee and a skyrocketing K-rate. But the “diabolical façade” cannot march on. Sure, March was a big month with huge releases. But amid the Hakens, Gorods, and Enslaveds of the world—surely good records that one should consider for something like the Record(s) o’ the Month—I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic about metal’s best, active band: Wilderun. With their first European tour behind them, and an unfortunate cancellation of the Stockholm date opening for Soilwork and Kataklysm, I’ve been listening to their entire discography. And, frankly, I had nothing but time to listen to them. being laid up with some mysterious illness and after getting tenured. And I have not an ounce of motivation to write that actual RotM, because that would require me to listen to new music that I didn’t review. Consequently, since this is Angry Metal Guy’s Record(s) o’ the Month, I figured I would do the obvious thing. The kind of thing that only an Angry Metal Guy can do. The kind of thing that will lead to endless fights in the comment section. And really, aren’t the fights in the comments section the real Record o’ the Month?

The answer is no. The REAL Record o’ the Month is Epigone (and the other two Wilderun albums we’ve reviewed) you uncultured swine. And they’re going to keep BEING the records o’ the month until there is complete agreement in the comment section.

As you know, Wilderun really is the best band active in metal today. I would say they’re tied with Turisas, but since Warlord Nygård has apparently come down with a George R.R. Martinesque case of writer’s block, I’m not sure we could call them “active.” Regardless of competition, however, it’s tough not to appreciate the sheer genius of Epigone upon continued, ongoing reflection. Epigone finds Wilderun doubling down on the dissonant strains that led to one of the best and most epic examples of ‘resolution‘ in the history of music. The record is complex, unsettling, and yet strangely sticky; once it gets under your skin, it doesn’t let go. It just continues being the best thing you’re listening to this month, in perpetuity. In a way, Epigone is the gift that keeps giving. It blends that smooth, orchestral approach with something raw and loud and dangerous. Top it off by being brilliantly played, beautiful arranged, and—this is key—it has RotM art that I’ve already made and used on multiple occasions. I can just pop up the same background we used for nearly all of 2022 and leave it up until the next time they release an album. This was a great plan and I should never have caved to the kind of pressure that readers and writers and even friends and family exerted on me. I can give Zadion his much desired win and I don’t have to fuck around with this anymore.

And, frankly, until morale improves down there in the comment section, the beatings will continue.

Runner(s) Up:

The album cover of Wilderun's - Veil of Imagination - a slightly surrealist, twisted tree covered in flowersWilderun // Veil of Imagination [Review 1; Review 2] — Wilderun is the only band to repeat as my Record o’ the Year, a fact accomplished because Veil of Imagination is even better than its predecessor. This record is the kind of complete album from an absolutely brilliant band who we all have the privilege of seeing develop before our eyes. There are only so many superlatives that I can write before I become a self-parody—a thing that I know I’m in no risk of becoming, but why risk it?—so I will try to keep this brief. I was right that Veil of Imagination was the starting gun for a new decade of melodic death metal and that it was an iconic album; yet that seems to be the case for everything Wilderun releases. Like Soen’s Lotus or Xoth’s Interdimensional Invocations, Veil of Imagination is a record that clearly exists as more than the sum of its parts; where everything is perfectly in place. The combination of inventive songwriting and arrangements (both songs and the album’s craft and impressive flow), stellar orchestral compositions, and the production, are all wrapped up in a cool concept with amazing artwork. These all complement each other, making Veil of Imagination truly stand out from the crowd. It’s records like this one that remind us all of the strength of the full-length album as an art form. It’s the kind of thing you want to put on in headphones and just sit down to listen.

Wilderun - Sleep at the Edge of EarthWilderun // Sleep at the Edge of the EarthSleep at the Edge of the Earth is a special album. In scope, this record is reminiscent of Orphaned Land’s ORwarriOR; it plays like a film score. The songs are littered with hooky, contagious riffs, gorgeous orchestrations, and inspired melodies that creep under your skin. It struck me again on every listen that this album is complete. Sleep at the Edge of the Earth is the very image of what the album as a single unit—an art form—should sound like. Every note is perfectly placed and the songwriting manages to be epic, emotive, and evocative without ever feeling overwrought or cheesy. Wilderun combines all the things I love about metal—orchestral epic vistas, earthy folk music, and melodic death and black strains with excellent clean vocals and startling growls—into a perfect package. The true test of an album, of course, is that it grows with time and 2023 finds Sleep at the Edge of the Earth just as vital and impressive as the day it was released. When I first heard Sleep at the Edge of the Earth, I liked it. Then I set it aside and moved on with my life and when I pulled it out again I loved it. This record has continued to reveal facets and wrinkles I did not notice the first time through as only the best albums ever do. It belongs in the pantheon of truly masterful albums that I own and have had the honor to have featured here at

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